Waking up to find you have no hot water is never much fun, and you may panic a bit at the prospect of getting it fixed.
Plumbing repairs vary drastically in cost based on the problem, the age, and model of your equipment, among other factors.
Troubleshooting Electric Water Heater Repairs
First, it’s worthwhile to go through some simple diagnostics before you spend money to have a plumber come out.
If your electric water heater isn’t working at all, you may simply have a flipped circuit breaker. Check your breaker box to make sure the switch hasn’t flipped. Also, the hot water cutoff may have tripped. It can be reset by pressing the associated button near the upper thermostat.
If those don’t solve the issue, we recommend you contact a reliable plumbing professional.
The average electric water heater repair cost is typically between $150 to $300 (based on the figures discussed below), but it can range higher or lower depending on the exact issue.
Read on to learn more about common electric water heater repairs and associated costs.
Heating Elements – $200 to $300
Often, problems with electric water heaters come from faulty heating elements. Your water heater will come with two—one up high, and another down toward the bottom. The system runs an electric current through each element, causing them to heat up and raise the temperature of the water in the tank.
An element may be burned out or shorted, in which case it will need replacement. A bad element could cause the circuit breaker to trip as well, so if you frequently have to reset the breaker switch, this could be the issue.
A replacement element on its own costs up to $20, and with labor, the total cost usually comes to around $200 to $300.
To determine if one of your water heaters elements is bad, an electrical continuity tester is used. This device can be found at most hardware stores for about $10.
Thermostat – $150 to $200
If it turns out that the heating elements are fine, your problem may be a thermostat issue. Every electric water heater has two thermostats, one for each element. If one of those should go, it won’t heat water as efficiently.
Typically, the lower thermostat handles most of your water heating requirements. When you need higher amounts of hot water, the upper unit kicks in. If either the upper or lower thermostat goes out, you’ll probably get cooler water from the unit, especially on heavier loads. In those cases, you’ll need to get the faulty thermostat replaced.
The parts needed for thermostat replacement typically cost around $20, and the total installation process should be no more than $200.
Anode Rod – $20 to $300
Sometimes, the problem comes not from the mechanical parts of the heating system, but from corrosion. If you’ve noticed corrosion on your water tank, it’s probably too late to recover the system, in which case you will need a replacement tank (up to $1300).
The anode rod prevents the tank from corroding, but it will gradually wear out. As such, it will need replacing every five years or so. Fortunately, it’s not that expensive—each rod costs up to $50, though if you plan to get it replaced professionally, that will bring up the price to as much as $300.
Dip Tube – $10 to $150
Another problem that could lead to poor water heating is a bad dip tube. The dip tube transfers cool water from the top of the tank down to the bottom where it can be reheated, so if it has worn out, you won’t get very warm water.
In some cases, the dip tube may break off or corrode away. A replacement tube costs $10, and you can expect professional repairs to reach $150 at the most.
Pressure Relief Valve – $20 to $200
A final issue is the pressure relief valve. The purpose of this valve is to let out excess pressure, so if the tank’s pressure is too high, it will cause the valve to leak consistently. Excess water tank pressure could result from various problems, all of which are best handled by a professional.
It may be that the valve itself is faulty or has excess sediment buildup, meaning it will need to be replaced. The part itself costs $20, and with professional replacement, the cost goes up to about $200.
Additional Factors To Consider With Electric Water Heater Repair Costs
When looking at electric water heater repair cost, there are a few additional items you’ll want to take into consideration.
Price of Labor
Much of the range in prices listed above comes from variations in the cost of labor.
Professional plumbers cost about $45 to $150 per hour, and most repairs take a couple hours to finish.
Make and Model
Another factor is the make and model of the unit.
Parts for some brands of electric water heaters may cost more than others, which could result in some fluctuation in price.
Quality of Work
Often, the quality of the repair work will be reflected in the price as well.
The more experienced and better trained a repair technician, the more they’re likely to cost.
While this may deter some homeowners, the extra cost is often worthwhile since it means there’s less risk of problems down the road.
Cost of Replacement
Ultimately, routine maintenance and minor repairs will help your unit last longer. This is important because the cost to replace an electric water heater can go up to $1300.
Keeping up on repairs can save you money in the long run.